See the Pop Group's Vacation Photos From Dismaland - Rolling Stone
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See the Pop Group’s Vacation Photos From Dismaland

Legendary post-punkers detail their day at Banksy’s dystopic theme park

The Pop Group

Dismaland, Banksy's self-described "bemusement park," emerged secretly and suddenly in August to disorient children and adults alike in the English seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare until September 27. Run the Jewels, Massive Attack, Kate Tempest, Pussy Riot and others performed there, as did two musicians billed simply as "local band." They turned out to be Mark Stewart and Gareth Sager, the singer and guitarist, respectively, of post-punk legends the Pop Group. Stewart shared his photographs of the event with Rolling Stone, along with his reflections on this unique and provocative experience.

Michael Beitz's 'Roll' and Mark Stewart at Dismaland

Michael Beitz’s ‘Roll’

That's the old world as seen by Michael Beitz. As I said during our performance, post-punk had an extraordinary effect. It globalized a generation into action. Groups sprung up around the world equipped with a new vocabulary, a new set of ethics and a sense of mission, creating jubilant manifestoes. . . . New iconoclasts will seize the day.

Peter Kennard's 'Shove'

Peter Kennard’s ‘Shove’

This graphic was done by one of the best artists since the Second World War, Peter Kennard, who I know from back in the day. Banksy's showing respect to earlier generations of artists by collecting people and protest posters from all over the world. In 20 or 30 years Dismaland is going to be seen as the definitive exhibition of engaged art.

Mark Stewart at Dismaland

Wasted Rita’s ‘Bankrupt Is the New Awesome’

[This] is by Wasted Rita, who puts up weird handmade Post-it notes. The good news is that Dismaland generated 20 million pounds for the Weston-Super-Mare community.

Jani Leinonen's 'Your dreams are my nightmares'

Jani Leinonen’s ‘Your dreams are my nightmares’

This Jani Leinonen piece sums up 2015 for me. It's about how a new kind of corrupted digital elite's dreams of riches are making utter no-go-zone nightmares for everybody in the world. Another one of his pieces said, "One day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich" in reclaimed advertising typefaces.


Riot Van

I remember going on family holidays as a teenager and being stuck in these weird "bemusement parks," as Banksy calls them. You'd be sitting with your family in this rundown kind of Nowheresville, getting drunk, and suddenly you'd start to piece together in your head how the world actually worked.

A Banksy piece at Dismaland

Killer Whale

That's by Banksy. Everyone had to sign a nondisclosure thing because Banksy was walking around and his anonymity is important to his art. They're taking a lot of the Dismaland structures to Calais in northern France, where refugees are gathering, because it's going to get freezing cold there.

Mark Stewart and Gareth Sager at Dismaland

Mark Stewart and Gareth Sager Bring the Noise

Our noise set was a provocation. It was a mad reading set to music: "When that dying howl of hunger blows down your door, lady spare a jewel. Bankrupt ideologies litter the dealing room floors. The flags of our fathers lie tattered and torn. The tortures, random beatings, crimes of hate rhetoric from the preachers of the perverted must stop. Class war is now scorched-earth policy, where they are raping the world's resources at the feast of Mammon and retreating to their crystal castles leaving your lands barren." It was like John Cooper Clarke meets Suicide. 

Mark Stewart at Dismaland

Mark Stewart

I was playing a dub siren, which lets off these siren noises in reggae sound systems. Jah Shaka uses one. I was going mad with it. It looks like a tobacco tin with a couple of knobs. That's what we were: a couple of knobs!

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